By: Benjie B. Talisic, Morexette B. Erram January 26,2018 - 12:34 AM

DETAINEES. The Madridejos police share a photo of a college teacher and five senior high school students they arrested and now held at the town police’s detention cell following a drug bust on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Barangay Pili of the town.


Police nab teacher, five students in a drug bust in Madridejos

As the third wave of Oplan Tokhang is set to resume this Monday, a drug bust in Madridejos town on Bantayan Island led to the arrest of a college teacher and five senior high school students.

Last Wednesday evening, Pablito Miro, who teaches marine environment at the Madridejos campus of the Cebu-based Salazar Colleges of Science and Institute of Technology (SCSIT), attempted to evade arresting officers from the Madridejos Police Station when he learned he was the target of the drug bust.

But the 31-year-old Miro was caught in time and led the police to ”a small, wooden house” in Barangay Pili of the town where five senior high school students, four of whom were enrolled in his class, were found to have just engaged in a shabu sniffing session, and were caught with drug paraphernalia.

Following their arrest, Miro and the students identified as Stephen Diongson, Czar Brian Lim, Michael Gidayawan, Salvador Atim and Jelson Medallo, all of whom are 18 years old and in grade 11, were brought to the Regional Crime Laboratory in Cebu City yesterday for a drug test.

Cebu Daily News contacted the office of the registrar of SCSIT’s main campus in Cebu City yesterday but Rosalie Angana, a staff from the department, said their university president, Dr. Doroteo Salazar, was the only person authorized to issue a statement regarding the matter. “Our president is currently out of the country but most probably (he will give his statement once he returns),” said Angana.

Miro, on the other hand, denied the accusations that he was peddling drugs in Madridejos, especially to his students. But he allegedly admitted to the police that he had been using drugs.

New Tokhang

The drug bust in Madridejos town happened four days before the Philippine National Police (PNP) is expected to implement for the third time its controversial anti-drug campaign Oplan Tokhang. But this time, new guidelines will be followed.

Police officers are now expected to “visit” drug users and suspected dealers only during day time — anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. — and only on weekdays. The visits can be watched live online via Facebook Live, if things go as planned.

Drug raids, however, can still be carried out at night. PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Wednesday revealed the changes in President

Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, including the use of body cameras by officers conducting anti-narcotics operations, when these gears become available.

The new guidelines are intended to bring transparency to narcotics operations, with Dela Rosa hoping to erase doubts about the conduct of those in the front lines of the campaign through the use of body cameras.

“Once they are available, we will require them to wear that,” he said. However, the PNP chief did not specify when the cameras were expected to be available to the police.

At the local level, the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) announced yesterday that they have started their preparations for the “new Oplan Tokhang.”

Senior Supt. Julian Entoma, chief of PRO-7’s Regional Operations and Planning Division, stressed that installing body cameras on raiding policemen would help ensure and prove that the police follow the law in dealing with drug suspects.

Entoma also said the regional police will focus on reducing the demand of illegal drugs within their jurisdiction, and that their office will be seeking the cooperation of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs) to help curb illegal drug use.

“We also welcome the media and religious sector in accompanying us, our police force, during Tokhang operations,” he said.

Eye on ‘big fishes’

For her part, Carmen Remedios “Ivy” Durano-Meca, chief of the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office (CPADAO), expressed hope that restoring

Tokhang to the police will result to a more effective anti-drug campaign in Cebu province.

This time around, Meca hoped the police would focus more on arresting big players involved in the illegal drug trade.

“Whatever guidelines will be implemented, I just hope that this time proper procedure will be observed. It is also more important for our law enforcers to identify big fishes in the illegal drug trade (considering that) the campaign against illegal drugs has been here for two years,” she said.

Oplan Tokhang, coined after Cebuano words toktok (to knock) and hangyo (to beg), was initially launched as a community-based house-to-house anti-drug campaign that enjoined drug users and peddlers to voluntarily give themselves up and to swear not to touch illegal drugs ever again.

The campaign, which was implemented soon after President Duterte assumed office in 2016, however, became controversial amid a sharp rise in the number of drug suspects killed during Oplan Tokhang operations.

President Rodrigo Duterte halted Oplan Tokhang twice and took out the police as lead implementers of the anti-drug war amid accusations of extrajudicial killings (EJKs), the involvement of policemen in the abduction and death of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo inside Camp Crame in October 2016, who was kidnapped in the guise of a police anti-drug operation, and the public outcry over the deaths of minors such as Kian Loyd delos Santos during such operations.

Oplan Tokhang was suspended for the second time last October, days after President Duterte issued an executive order that directed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the sole body that could implement the war on drugs.

Anonymous tips

But even if the police were no longer involved in the anti-drug campaign, the Madridejos police had begun monitoring the activities of Miro, a native of the southern Cebu town of Santander, after receiving information from an anonymous tipster that the teacher was allegedly a drug peddler.

Chief Insp. Joseph Mangle, the police chief of Madridejos, said that the initial reports from his investigators revealed that Miro allegedly sold illegal drugs not only to his students but also to other drug users in Barangay Poblacion of the town where he currently lives.

SPO3 Kent Formentera of the Madridejos police, in another phone interview on Thursday, told CDN that they received a message from a different tipster hours before they conducted the buy-bust last Wednesday evening in Barangay Pili.

“He was under continued monitoring because the first informant told us that most of his customers were students. We validated these reports and right after we (received the new message), we did the buy-bust,” said Formentera.

Confiscated from Miro were four small packs of shabu, which weighed to a total of 0.12 gram, valued at P1,460. Drug paraphernalia such as used aluminum tin foils, with drug residue, were retrieved from the students, Formentera said.

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TAGS: Oplan ., resumes, Tokhang
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